Friday, 31 May 2013

Kettners Afternoon Tea

My friend I is getting married soon which only means one thing: a hen do! We started the day with afternoon tea at Kettners, Soho. Pleased to report that there was not a penis straw in sight and that tea and cakes is definitely a good prelude to 5pm cocktails...
The menu. We opted for the classic afternoon tea as cocktail making was planned for later in the day. The choice of teas is huge - I love trying different teas so opted for the virtuous-sounding lemon verbena.
How pretty is this display? I don't really like merringue but something about these just made me want to pick one up and bite into it. I didn't do that though.
So, I know you're meant to start with the sarnies but the cake plate definitely grabbed my attention first. This contained a mini macaroon, a spoon of bread and butter pudding with custard, an almond slice, a chocolate millionaire's shortbread and a rhubuarb and elderflower jelly. I loved how inventive the selection was - no boring sponge cake or tasteless pastries. I can't pick my favourite. Don't make me, please (oh, ok, the shortbread was pretty amazing).
The scones. Perfectly formed. With cream and jam for topping.

Kettners Soho Afternoon Tea
The platter. The sandwiches contained salmon, cucumber, egg and ham - the classics. The different breads were a really nice touch. I've given up bread but this was a "special occasion" so it was pretty exciting to eat it again, especially in its white, crustless form (the crack cocaine of the bread world). 
Peeking through the food, shortly before demolishing it. In a ladylike fashion, of course. The portion size was Goldilocks perfect - not too little and not too much.
The afternoon tea was a great start to a day of hen-do fun. The setting was lovely, in an Edwardian style townhouse with high ceilings and large windows. If you do visit, please take a trip to the ladies - definitely not your average loo. At around £20 each the afternoon tea is well-priced for central London, I've definitely paid a lot more in the past and not been as impressed. The staff were great about bringing extra pots of tea to our large group which is always a good sign.

What's your favourite afternoon tea destination?


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Arrested Development

Those of you unfamiliar with Arrested Development may wish to skip this post and wait for normal service to resume. This weekend saw the return of AD and with a Bank Holiday Monday, an AD party was in order. A bit of creative thinking and Googling resulted in my friend P and I cooking up some favourites from the series and then sitting down to watch the new episodes and eat our creations.

You will need the above ingredients, easily sourced from Tesco and Waitrose. The Cornballer was a combination of an Argos order and some creative printing.
1. Bluth Bananas 
"There's always money in the banana stand"
These are so easy as well as being understandable and edible for non-fans. Peel your bananas, place on a tray and stick plastic knives in them as sticks. Freeze for 2 hours.
Melt your chocolate in the microwave. Crush the nuts.
Coat banana in chocolate of your choice (I am a dark chocolate only kinda girl). The chocolate will harden when it makes contact with the frozen banana so work quickly!
Roll banana in crushed nuts.
Eat! This actually tasted so good. And its sort of healthy. One of your 5-a-day and all that.

2. Skip's Scramble
A breakfast dish comprised of many other breakfast dishes.
Start with the base. Toast your bread and cut into triangles. Line your paella dish or any large trough-like dish you can find.
Bake hash browns and potatoes in the oven. Toast or grill waffles and pancakes. Scramble nine eggs and try 20 rashers of bacon.
Add a pack of ham and a Krispy Kreme donut. DONE.
Serve to friends and family.
3. Hot Ham Water
Lindsay Bluth's best creation.
Place uneaten ham from Skip's Scramble into a saucepan. Bring to the boil.
4. Corn Balls
 Made in a Cornballer illegally imported from Mexico...
Heat your oil in the corn baller. We followed this recipe to make our corn balls. Form the balls of dough into "blobs" with your hands and stick a small piece of cheese in the middle of each one. Fry for 3 - 4 minutes.
Done! Drain on kitchen paper to soak up some of the grease.
Cheesy goodness inside.
Did you watch the new series of Arrested Development? What did you think? And will you be re-creating any of these?

Friday, 24 May 2013

Treat Eats: Patty & Bun

Burgers are still taking London by storm. I'm not sure what the next "food trend" will be but at the moment it seems as if we still haven't got our fill of them yet (approaching bikini season will probably do little to change this). A group of us blogger types headed to Patty and Bun for A's birthday to get our burger fix. 
Patty & Bun is tucked away on a side street behind Selfridges. On a sunny evening, the queue outside is not too arduous, the front of the restaurant opens onto the street and Jay-Z and 90s garage blast out.

We waited about 45 minutes for a table for 8 of us. If there are only 2 of you it will be faster. The menu is short and sweet. I didn't get any of the cultural references in the burger names. Apparently "Ari" has something to do with Entourage. Clue. Less.
We ordered a range of the burgers on offer and 3 sides of fries and 3 portions of wings. The portion sizes of the sides are generous and definitely affable to sharing.
I ordered the Hot Chic burger. Chicken and veggie options are sometimes hard to come by but P&B offers both. The buttermilk chicken was super tasty and the topping spilled out of the bun - no scrimping here! Knifes and forks are provided for those who don't want to attempt to pick up such a beast.

The chips were perfectly crisp and salty. I don't like fat chips but these passed my strict chip parameters. The wings were the biggest surprise for me - I had heard that they were good but wings aren't usually my thing. I am so glad I tried these, they are unlike any other wings I've had. Super soft chicken that falls off of the bones in a sweet, sticky sauce. Try them. Even if you think you won't like them.
Patty & Bun is a rather intimate experience - the tables are rammed close together and the food is really messy. Go with good friends who won't judge you for licking sauce off of your fingers. Or just fail to care as you do just that, it's worth it.

Service was fast and friendly - our waiter was a little bemused at serving a table of bloggers and our incessant food photography! Prices are reasonably for quality burgers in central London - I paid around £13 for my burger, a share of the sides and an obligatory Diet Coke.

Quite possibly the best burger and burger-eating experience so far. 

Have you tried Patty & Bun?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Promote Yourself

My blog has "grown up" a lot since I started it way back in 2009. Another step to blogging adulthood came about when Instaprint offered me the chance to design some flyers for my blog using their design tool. I've attended a few events where bloggers and PRs have asked me for business cards and I've just had to mumble "oh, um, er, I don't have any". Blogging may be a hobby for me but a little businesslike thinking will do no harm.

Front View
Back View - all the important details

I designed my flyers using one of the pre-made designs on Instaprint's website. You can also use your own pictures or blog header. I decided to do something different to my blog design - I'd recently visited the Litchenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern so took inspiration from this to create a pop-art inspired design. I kept it simple with just the essential information - less is more sometimes. I now have 250 of these to give away. You can start designing your flyers here.

Do you have business cards or flyers to promote your blog?

Small print: The flyers were provided by Instaprint free of charge for my review of the designing process.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A weekend in Yorkshire

I am most definitely a London girl but every now and then it's nice to take a break from the rainy (although that could apply to anywhere in the UK), busy and rather overpriced city I call home. I spent last weekend in Yorkshire welcoming the sight of fields, cows and country pubs rather than traffic, moody commuters and a Starbucks on every corner. It still rained, mind.

My parents and I stayed in a lovely B&B in Beverley (website here). My room was so homely and had lots of quirky touches. Sleeping next to a bookcase of All England Law Reports was an experience I thought I'd left behind now that my days of taking naps in the university library have long passed.
Dinner in a local restaurant. I couldn't remember the last time I had had pizza and was running 10k the next day so this definitely was allowed.
Pre-run breakfast of museli, yogurt and fruit. Breakfasts on weekends away are my favourite thing ever. My parents tucked in to full English breakfasts for fuel to watch me run 10k. Funny how that works.
A slightly less saintly breakfast option.
My Beverley 10k medal. I did it in 1:05 so Mo Farrah isn't going to be worried but I think that's a personal record for me. The weather manged to stay nice for the race and only rained once we were in the pub afterwards, thanks English weather!
The table ready for breakfast the next morning. Parents under strict instructions not to touch anything until the photo has been taken. I loved the China and the range of homemade jams.
Selfie in the hall mirror. Dress is from Primark.
Smoked salmon omlette. So good.
We paid a visit to Betty's tea room in Harrogate to escape from the weird weather - hail stones and gale force winds one moment, bright sunshine the next.
My parents both ordered the famous Fat Rascal. IT LOOKS LIKE IT HAS A FACE!
Teas and coffees all round.
I had a sultana scone with a huge portion of jam.
A moment of sunlight and a photo opportunity before we left to make the trip back Down South.
Have you been to Yorkshire?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Office Florals

Summer may or may not be here. All I know is that for one day, it seemed pretty summery and black tights and a coat no longer were required in order to leave the house for work.

Dress: M&S, Shoes: Louboutin Simple Pump 100
"Summer workwear" presents a minefield of issues which I will save for another post as the tights have now come back out. This dress was a £20 bargain in the M&S Christmas sale - it may be black but the floral panel makes it summery enough and the material is really thin so definitely one to save for a sunny day. I've seen a lot of dresses with this symmetrical front panel detail - I like it and think that it's quite flattering so a couple more may work their way into my wardrobe.

How are you coping with the seasonal limbo we're facing at the moment?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ted Baker: Summer Style Picks

I was recently contacted by "Ted" about their spring/summer blogger competition. Here is my entry and favourite picks from their collection. This summer for me is definitely "wedding season" (how am I old enough to have friends getting married?) so the style challenges of dressing for friends' big days have inspired my choices:

This dress is so pretty - the demure neckline and hemline definitely make it wedding appropriate and I love the pop of red lace. There seem to be a lot of "rules" around wedding dressing, don't wear black, don't wear white, don't upstage the bride...I'd also recommend finding out what colour dresses the bridesmaids are wearing to avoid being mistaken for one if you're not!

Meeda Double Breasted Blazer.

For church weddings (and for the good old English summer weather) a jacket is definitely needed. I was torn between the pink and ecru but as its summer the pink won out. I really like how a classic piece has been taken out of office territory with the cropped sleeves and bright colour. After wedding season I'd wear this with casual outfits (and maybe to work if I were feeling brave).

Whicket Colour Block Bowler.

Finally, a bag. Weddings are often all day affairs so you will need all your essentials, plus an umbrella, tissues for any happy tears and some flats to deal with any walking-over-grass situations (or for when it gets to midnight and you've been wearing heels for twelve hours). A clutch bag isn't really going to cut it. Stash your confetti in the front pocket and please, please but your phone on silent.

Small print: This post is a competition entry. No freebies or payment involved.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Treat Eats: Burger And Lobster

I've been wanting to visit Burger and Lobster since the first restaurant opened in Mayfair. The inability to make a reservation, talk of long queues and a minimum spend of £20 for a main course made me hesitate about paying a visit. Burger and Lobster now has four branches, including one in the city on Bread Street which was perfect for an impromptu mid-week "oh go on then" meal with my friend P on a Tuesday evening (despite the fact that B and L probably falls more into the "treat eats" category):

The weights and prices of lobster are displayed daily. If there's a large group of you, you can pick an appropriate sized lobster which is served with unlimited sides. I guess you'd have to be pretty hungry go to for the £195 fellow.

The lobsters sit in a tank, labelled with their weights. I wouldn't bring any of my vegetarian friends here, least of all because they wouldn't be able to eat any of the amazing food anyway!
Diet Coke and a frosty glass.

Our super friendly waitress ran through the food options with us. There are no food menus as there are only three choices - lobster (steamed or grilled), lobster roll or a burger (with optional cheese and bacon at no extra cost). After giving us plenty of time to decide, we opted for sharing the burger and the lobster roll so that we could try both. Our waitress was clearly used to this and offered to cut both in half for us - perfect!
The burger is huge! We chose to have the optional cheese and bacon to get the full burger experience. We ordered it as rare as they would cook it and it was perfect. I am not a big meat-eater but surprisingly like my burgers nice and pink. The chips on the side are perfect - super skinny and super hot. There is nothing worse than warm, fat chips in my book. The salad is light and fresh and makes you feel a little bit better about the amount of carbs on the plate.

Our spread.

The lobster roll contains as much lobster as when you order the lobster option, it's just already been taken out of the shell so saves you from that fiddly task. The lobster roll is a soft brioche bun with Japanese-style wasabi mayonnaise inside.

A cross-section of the burger to show you. Possibly a bit of a challenge to bite through. I always go for the deconstruct-and-eat-with-a knife-and-fork method as I am terrified of making a mess.
Burger and Lobster did not disappoint. The food was amazing and the atmosphere of the restaurant and friendliness of the staff made for a great evening. Several of the tables seemed to be celebrating birthdays - I know where I'm tempted to go in September. We didn't try the desserts as we were too full but two are offered - one being a rather tempting sounding peanut butter and jelly creation. We finished the meal with Americanos resulting in a bill of around £30 each, including the service charge. Burger and Lobster may be a little pricey but it's well worth it for the food and the experience.

Have you been to Burger and Lobster?

© Lillian Zahra | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig